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Learning outcomes

At the end of this unit you should:

  • know about the electromagnetic spectrum and how it is used to infer properties of sources of radiation;

  • know about the range of sizes, distances and motions of objects in the Universe and how they can be measured;

  • know about the structure of, and the main processes operating in, the Sun;

  • comprehend concepts lying well outside everyday experience, including those that involve very large and very smal
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary and is used under licence.

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5.3.4 Aye-ayes

Perhaps with good reason, the aye-aye has been dubbed by some ‘the strangest of all primates’ and LoM provides some of the reasons [p. 243]. Little wonder that, as DA points out, the species was first classified as a rodent like them, it has powerful incisor teeth that grow continuously.

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5.5.2 Indris and sifakas

Both indris and sifakas are unusual amongst lemurs in that they are active largely by day. Leaves are their primary food. They have a specialised form of locomotion, best described as ‘vertical clinging and leaping’ and the leaps they can take, using their powerful legs, can be up to 10 m. DA describes the bounding movement of sifakas when they are compelled to come to ground. (If you go back to the previous video sequence that shows this strikingly white species – the so-called silky s
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5.2 Madagascan diversity

Activity 7

Watch the video sequence below, which focuses on just three lemur species – the ring-tailed (in a very brief sequence, leaping from one tree to another), the golden bamboo lemur, already mentioned, and the sifaka, plus the
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4 Galagos, lorises and pottos

Activity 6 is divided into several parts, on successive pages, and asks you to answer a number of questions. Look ahead to this activity now and highlight, or list, the different ‘process’ words, which tell you what you need to do with the content You should have found ‘describe’, ‘contrast’, ‘eva
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8 What makes a successful omnivore?

From what has been said already, there's good evidence that the key physical characteristic of the great majority of omnivores is a non-specialist dentition. What about other aspects of their biology?

Question 11

Question: Many omni
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4.2 Other members of the bear family

Other omnivorous species of bear include the Asian black bear, the North American black bear and the Andean spectacled bear. Although polar bears spend their winters hunting seals out on the Arctic sea-ice, they have to come ashore when the ice melts in spring and find other sources of food.

Activity 2
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3 Is specialisation always advantageous?

Specialisation generally implies the possession of adaptations that make animals particularly effective or efficient in one or more aspects of their lives. In many of the examples used in other units in this series, mammals are likely to possess adaptations related to the acquisition and/or processing of food.

Que
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10 Living in herds

Wildebeest are only one of the species of plant predator that live in herds. Many others do too.

Activity 7

Watch the the TV programme from 30.48–47.32 and read LoM p. 109. Identify and write down (a) a couple of advantages and
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3.3 Variation

Fossil rodents are first found in rocks that date from around 65 million years ago (from the Eocene) and are thought to have evolved from insectivore/omnivore-type mammals that lived 100 million years ago (in the Cretaceous period). To say that they evolved from simply means that there probably is a direct line of descent but that the descendants have changed from their forebears. One of the most significant ways that evolutionary change can be brought about is by a process known as na
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6.2.4 The speed and direction of the Earth's motion

The first significant claim to have detected the motion of the Earth relative to the ‘frame of isotropic 3 K radiation’ came in 1977 from a group at Berkeley, California. They concluded that the Earth is moving at a speed of (390 ± 60) km s−1, in a direction towards the constellation Leo, relative to a frame in which the 3 K radiation is isotropic. Their conclusion resulted from observations of a variation of intensity with angle of the form predicted by Equation 14, which w
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5.3 The redshift of the 3 K radiation

The temperature, T, of the radiation is proportional to the most probable photon energy, E, which as we have said is proportional to f, and hence inversely proportional to the wavelength λ. Thus,

According to Equation 1, we have for the redshift, z


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3.3 Extending the distance scale

Having reviewed some of the properties of galaxies, we are now in a position to return to the question of how we are to develop further our methods of measuring distance.

The various steps taken in determining larger distances from known smaller ones are often called ‘rungs in the distance ladder’. The process of constructing a rung has been:

  1. Find a measurable quantity associated with a class of objects.

  2. Observe how the measura
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3.2 Some general properties of galaxies

Firstly, we note that galaxies tend to occur in clusters rather than singly. The mutual gravitational attraction of galaxies naturally tends to hold them on paths that remain close to each other. Typically a cluster contains tens or hundreds of galaxies. There are, however, large clusters with thousands of galaxies, and there are some solitary galaxies. Our own Galaxy is a member of a smallish cluster of about 36 galaxies called the Local Group (see Author(s): The Open University

3.1 First steps towards a distance scale

As you will see from Table 2, when it comes to astronomy and cosmology, one is called on to deal with a wide range of distances. (Note that a light-year (ly) is the distance light travels in one year, i.e. 9.46 × 1015 m. The distances are also quoted in a very commonly used astronomical unit of distance: the megapar
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5.1.4 Getting agreement with the no-monopole law

Substituting Equation 7.23 into the no-monopole law gives immediate agreement because

The no-monopole law is analogous to Gauss's law in empty space, and it leads to a similar conclusion: the magnetic wave must be transverse. This has already been established using Farada
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5.1.2 Getting agreement with Gauss's law

Substituting the assumed form of the electric field (Equation 7.20) into the empty-space version of Gauss's law (Equation 7.16) gives

The first two partial derivatives are equal to zero because f does not depend on x or y. So we obtain


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4.5 Endocrine disruptors

Then he was a she…

(Lou Reed, American rock singer)

In 1996, a book called Our Stolen Future was published, bringing to public attention a debate that had been simmering among biologists for some time. Written by Theo Colborn and two colleagues at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), this book presented the hypothesis that certain industrial chemicals, commonly found as environmental pol
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1.4 Decimal places

If you have less than one unit you should put a zero before the decimal point to make it easier for yourself and others to read the value (e.g. you should write 0.4 rather than just .4, as will be explained later in this unit). However, how many zeros should you put after the last whole number in the series? For instance, is 0.4 the same as 0.40?

The short answer is that on one level, it is. However, by writing 0.40 we are saying that there are four tenths and zero hundredths, an
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